DIY: Creating a flickrering garden lantern triggered by the wind

windtriggeredlantern-570

Make it and hang it in your garden, and watch it blink away happily when the wind blows. Check out photos and video from the build.

Update! My heroes over at the MAKE: Blog picked up this little project. I am so proud right now.

Another Update, 7th of February 2009: Plugged on the Japanese version av Make Zine + I believe a reworked version of this tutorial is getting printed in the next issue og Make Magazine, not sure yet…

m17-coverYet another update: Make Magazine wanted to print a short version of this tutorial in their real, physical edition (I even got paid, woot! How cool is that!). Here is how it looks in their online edition!

I read about a lovely project yesterday on Inhabitat, where a team of Japanese guys (and girls?) created some lovely solarpowered lights. When hung in trees, these lights only came on if there was wind (and dark enough, I suppose).

Some specs, in Japanese http://www.livingworld.net/essays/windlit2001-2/lang-pref/ja/.

I didn’t have what I needed to make a solar powered version, but I did make one powered by a button cell battery instead.

My version is very bare bones and not as techy and beautiful as the “original“, but it works, and is hanging in my garden right now, blinking away happily. Check out photos and video from the build below…

Photos and instructions: http://pappmaskin.no/flickrphotos/album/72157612488495230/diy-windtriggered-blinking-led.html

Test video (excuse the poor quality):

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Step one, soldering an LED to the battery holder.

I got the battery holder for the flat 3v button cell battery from an old pc I have been scavenging parts from. It is the battery that powers the internal clock of the PC, and I guess every pc has one. You don’t need a battery holder at all, you could just use tape to attach on of the feet to the LED, but a battery holder makes things a little easier.

Remember to test the LED so you know you attach the correct leg to the right side of the battery.

I used solder and a soldering iron, but tape works fine.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

The nest step is to solder something flexible to the other side of the battery. I happened to have a long thin spring from a cd-rom drive for an IBM Thinkpad I took apart a while back, it it works great. Another option could be a thin copper thread/wire, as thin as possible.

I will attach a feather to this spring later, so that when the feather moves in the wind, it also pulls on the spring which touches the foot of the LED, and closes the circuit = blinking!

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Here I have bent the foot of the LED around the spring. None of the metal parts touches until the spring gets some action later.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Another shot of the LED. This is actually all you have to do in this project. Pull on the tip of the spring and let go, and your LED will blink like crazy.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

I have a thing for feathers, always have. For the next step you need needle and thread, and a feather. You could also cut out a long piece of paper or (god forbid) plastic. It would work just as well. As long the wind has something to grab on to.

Write something really deep on the paper, like “Satori” or … “Paris Hilton”.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Thread you needle, put the thread double, and put it through the fat end of your feather, or whatever you decide to use.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

All holed up and ready to party.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

While you’re at it, put the needle through the spring as well.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Tie a nice knot.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Testing on two three. Push the spring so it touches the little loop on the leg of the LED. There is light, whooohooo!

Now run around like a monkey to simulate how it might behave in real wind. Or go outside and test it. (I did the monkey thing)

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

The rest of this project is optional, and consists of making a weatherproof housing for the windtrigger and battery. You may skip it, or make up your own version (I wasn’t very happy with my own solution).

I have been meaning to make a cute little lantern to hold tea candles to put in the trees in our garden, but haven’t gotten around to it. The plan was to use jam glasses and wire of some sort to make a harness for the glass.

Now I get a chance to figure out how. The only change I have to do is to flip the glass upside down, and use the lid to hold the LED and battery in place.

You need:
Glass and lid
Knife
Stiff wire and wirecutters (you could use rope actually…)

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

First cut a slit in the lid, from side to side. I actually wanted to cut a circular hole instead, and build some sort of holder to suspend the led in the center of the glass (like a light bulb), but I was getting impatient. I think I will improve on this patent later, and perhaps add some more nifty electronics, like a solar cell or light sensitive noise generator!)

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Stuff your feather and wind trigge through the slit in the lid.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Now this is where I understood that my initial idea was flawed. The LED and at least part of the wind trigger will have to be out in the open, exposed to the weather. FAIL! But it will do for now.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Adjusting things a little, making sure the trigger is still working.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Kind of neat. Easy to get access to the battery holder if I need to change batteries.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Lots of space left in the glass for other stuff. Notice that I didn’t even bother taking the label off the glass. Shame on me! If God lives in the details, then he has had nothing to do with this solution.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Close up the slit in the lid a little with some tape if you want to. Electrical tape sucks ass, but thats all I had.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

I have had this roll of wire forever, never really had much use for it until now. It is about a milimeter thick, stiff, but soft enough to bend and tie with my fingers.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

I cut off two pieces, each about two feet or so long. The reason for this is that I want to use each to form both half a revolution around the glass, and then go up to form the handle. I tried putting in piece of wire all the way around the glass, but then the wires i tried to attach to use as a handle just kept sliding, There was nothing holding them in place 180 degrees opposite each other.

Just eyeball the middle of the glass, and then make a loop on one end of the wire as I have done on this picture (on the thumbs side) and then fold the wire on the other side to point up.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

I then took the other string and made the other half, kind of exacly opposite of the first piece of wire.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Getting closer.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

I decided to wrap the wire that is about to go up to form the handle around itself once to prevent it from slipping loose.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Turn the glass jar on its head, stretch the wire as hard as you can, but not too hard, the wire might snap). Twitch the wires around a few times, then to the same on the end of each wire to complete the handle.

Viola! Screw on the lid with your wind trigger, hold the jar up, and do the final adjustments to asure that the spring and the LED only touches when the feather moves (as opposed to all the time).

Now, go forth and hang your led light in a windy location, download a text on morse code, and try to see it the wind is saying something that makes sense.

:)

If this had been for a tea candle holder I would have flipped the handle the other way of course.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

Testing the Wind triggered LED lantern outside. I hate the look of the jar on top, that thing will have to be remade! I think a solar version, and using beeswax to build a house for it will look beautiful.

DIY: Wind triggered blinking garden light

The finished thing, after being outside blinking for four hours. Still works really well. With some fine tuning it even triggers now and then from the air circulation naturally in the house. And crapola, I REALLY do need to replace that jar with something prettier.

7 Comments

  1. Morten, thank you for sharing – if I had a garden I would have made lots of these right away :D

    Great idea, and I am amazed by all the cool use of LED’s from the intarwebs. Made a blinkybug earlier, it was also supposed to be out in the garden, blinking with the wind, but then… I keep it inside, safe from the rain :)

  2. Thanks! Cute bug! Did you use guitar strings for the antennas?

  3. Gwendolyn Choo January 19, 2009 at 4:47

    Morten, thank you for sharing – if I had a garden I would have made lots of these right away

    nice blog

    Regards
    Gwen

  4. flower seed March 1, 2009 at 3:25

    Thats a real cool wind activated light idea. I’m going to make 10 or more and put them on my fence poles around my garden.

    Then on the months when the fire flies aren’t out it will still look like they are.

    I love this idea and thanks!

  5. @flower seed : Thank you! Send pictures!

  6. I will have to try this once!! :D

    Liker bloggen din veldig godt! tror jeg har vært her før, men glemte å bokmerke. Fant den plutselig igjen så nå er den merket! Hehe!

  7. [...] Pretty! In the mean time, you can try to make your own. Here is Pappmaskin’s post with the full set of instructions. [...]

Comments are closed.